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Thread: Ripping Guide

  1. #1
    Join Date: Aug 2010

    Location: Montseny National Park, Catalonia

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    I'm John.

    Default Ripping Guide

    Ripping Guide
    Ripping a music collection is a major time consuming task and something ideally you only want to do once so itís worth getting it right first time.

    Iíve been surprised by the differing methods, applications and formats people have used to rip their music collection to file.
    This is a basic guide is for ripping CDís; converting analogue to digital, vinyl or tape, is not covered here.
    Following the guidelines below should ensure your music collection is kept safe from computer related disasters and will provide you with rips of the best possible quality with the option to convert to other formats and/or use different media players and OS.

    To follow the guide you will need:
    2, preferably 3 storage drives,
    A ripping application
    A computer with a dvd,cd drive
    Cables to link all the above

    Storage Drives
    There are a great many makes and sizes available but roughly there are two types available; the standard type drive that you find in most computers which is a spinning hard disc 2.5Ē or 3.5Ē diameter and the newer Solid State Drives (SSD) which donít have any moving parts.
    Both types have their advantages and disadvantages, the SSD drives are virtually silent, tend to have a smaller capacity and are expensive. The more affordable spinning disc type drives tend to be mechanically noisier, are available in large capacities and are relatively cheap.
    Both types have been known to fail, more often than not problems with associated software not recognizing the drive.
    As with anything concerning audio there are debates concerning the speed of data retrieval, spin speeds, connection methods and backup and storage configuration (NAS).
    Such issues are outside the scope of this guide.

    What I would also suggest is you choose a drive that has a power supply independent from a computer.
    USB powered drives will take up two USB ports on your laptop or PC to provide adequate power and can make life more difficult when powering a USB Dac. This will also give you the option of building your own power supply for your drives if you believe that electrical generated noise is causing audible problems during playback.
    With regard to reliability from what I have read most of the main brands are equally reliable. I have used
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Western-Digi...d=6BAIIOG8YJWG
    and
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hitachi-LS-1...d=6BAIIOG8YJWG
    without problems so far.

    The Ripping Application
    A great many media players can rip. My recommendation is you use an application specifically for the purpose of ripping and keep the players solely for playback.
    I do not recommend using itunes for ripping.
    If you want ALAC files use one of the application s below and then convert.
    I do recommend using either Exact Audio Copy or dbpoweramp.
    Both EAC and dbPA are capable of bit perfect ripping. Both are relatively easy to use; dbPA having the edge on ripping speed and convenience.
    I use EAC; itís free, while dbPA has to be purchased.
    http://www.exactaudiocopy.de/
    http://www.dbpoweramp.com/

    Because EAC is the application I have the most experience with, below is a links to what I have found to be excellent guides for this app. However, if you are prepared to purchase dbPA there are equally good guides available.
    The important point here is too read the guides and experiment with EAC BEFORE you start ripping your collection.
    http://blowfish.be/eac/index.html
    http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/EACInstall

    EAC has an easy setup option and for most users this will give you the best quality rips. I do however recommend you ensure that Accurate Rip is enabled, that you enable cue sheets (you can embed other information in cue sheets at a later date if required, but not if theyíre not there in the first place) and please, submit your rip results to their data base.

    Ripping Drive.
    Most PC and laptops come with a suitable drive.
    Generally the more powerful your computer the faster the whole ripping process can be.
    It can be helpful to know the spec of the drive you are going to use for ripping as differing drives use differing offsets and both EAC and dbPA have options to make use of this information.
    http://www.accuraterip.com/driveoffsets.htm

    Cables
    In theory as long as the cables you use to link the receiving drive to the ripping computer meet the relevant standard data should pass uncorrupted. I find the Belkin Gold series USB cables excellent quality for the price.

    Ripping
    Rip a minimum of two copies, preferably three.
    I rip one copy as WAV as backup/reference library. WAV is an uncompressed format and as such can be copied and converted to any other format with the suitable software. If you rip to another format as reference, even lossless, there is always that niggling doubt that something got left out or when playing back the extra processing power required to de compress the format somehow influences the final audio.
    I rip another copy to Flac using the external converter supplied with EAC. I have the converter set to convert after each rip. Itís more time consuming than converting as the next rip is in progress but perhaps safer in the long run. If youíre a mac users then this is the copy to convert to ALAC.
    This is the copy I use to listen to.
    Given the low price of data storage a third copy as a belt and braces approach to keeping all that precious music and time youíve spent ripping safe from computer related disasters, theft, accidents etc is sensible. Once again I used WAV for the reasons above and I keep it in a fireproof storage box and update every month.
    Make a directory to hold ripped music.
    Rip to a folder that has the artistís name and album title. The benefit of this is it makes it a lot easier to retrieve or delete a complete album and overcome file tagging problems.
    Make each folder before you start the rip and direct EAC to save to that folder in that directory.
    Always make a cue sheet for each album or track if youíre ripping individual tracks.
    (The importance of cue sheets cannot be stressed enough, if you donít do them at the initial rip you are likely to regret it when it comes to album art, changing media player or method such as RAM loading players.)

    Whether you choose to initially rip the one WAV file and copy from that, or rip individually to each storage medium is a matter of how paranoid you are. I rip individually to each drive.

    I prefer to keep the original CD, mainly because I still havenít found a utility that provides ALL the information found on the sleeve. However, if you are prepared to search for such information on the net should you require it then selling the CDís after youíve ripped them can reduce the overall cost. Personally, I would only consider this if I had ripped three copies.

    Thatís the basics; how you back up and add to your collection will depend a lot on how youíve stored the files. There is a number of software option for backing up, particularly if youíve got a NAS system in RAID configuration but for the more humble setups my own included, I back up manually.

    It took me about two weeks of fairly constant attention to rip my CD collection (~380 CDís) and I spent a little short of £200 on the hardware (3 drives and cables). So far, Iíve had one drive fail, (through my own fault, I dropped it).
    I still havenít found a satisfactory way to convert to file all the music I recorded from vinyl to reel to reel tape but one day perhaps.

    I hope this guide is understandable and helpful. If I have missed something please feel free to add to it.
    Single spur balanced Mains. Self built music server with 3 seperate linear PSU, Intel i5, 16 GB RAM no hard drive (various Linux OS). Benchmark Dac2 HGC, single ended XLR interconnects/Belkin cable. Exposure 21RC Pre, Super 18 Power (recap & modified). Modded World Audio HD83 HP amp. Hand built Monitors with external crossovers , Volt 250 bass & ABR, Scanspeak 13M8621 Mid & Scanspeak D2905/9300 Hi. HD595 & Beyer 880 (600 ohm) cans.

    The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.
    -Bertrand Russel

    John.

  2. #2
    Alex_UK's Avatar
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    Good work John - one point I would make though is that you need to keep the original CDs if you want to stay legal with copywrite - technically if you no longer own the CD you shouldn't keep the ripped version.
    Alex

    Main System: Digital: Dell Latitude D630/M2Tech Hiface/JRiver Media Centre 17/FLAC; Marantz SA7001 KI Signature SACD Player and other digital stuff into Gatorised Beresford Caiman DAC Vinyl: Garrard 401/SME 3009 SII Improved/Sumiko HS/Nagaoka MP-30
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  3. #3
    Join Date: Aug 2010

    Location: Montseny National Park, Catalonia

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    Thanks Alex; best to keep withing the law eh
    Single spur balanced Mains. Self built music server with 3 seperate linear PSU, Intel i5, 16 GB RAM no hard drive (various Linux OS). Benchmark Dac2 HGC, single ended XLR interconnects/Belkin cable. Exposure 21RC Pre, Super 18 Power (recap & modified). Modded World Audio HD83 HP amp. Hand built Monitors with external crossovers , Volt 250 bass & ABR, Scanspeak 13M8621 Mid & Scanspeak D2905/9300 Hi. HD595 & Beyer 880 (600 ohm) cans.

    The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.
    -Bertrand Russel

    John.

  4. #4
    Join Date: Apr 2010

    Location: Nergenshuizen, NL

    Posts: 196

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    Hi Welder

    Iím a bit puzzled by some of your recommendations.

    What I would also suggest is you choose a drive that has a power supply independent from a computer.
    What you said about drives are well known issues.
    However, these issues are about playback. This is about how electrical activity of components might have an impact on sound quality.
    There are indications that these components might disturb the clock so induces ample rate jitter.
    Ripping is transferring data from one digital medium (CD) to another (HD).
    Inside the digital domain jitter is not an issue (we are not doing AD, only transferring data).
    So Iím inclined to say rip to your local HD (fastest) unless you run out of space.

    I do think most of the media players today, when set to secure mode, do produce a bit perfect rip. However, both dbPoweramp and EAC have a extra lock, AccurateRip.
    This makes them almost nuke proof.

    Ripping is one thing, getting your tags right is another.
    I donít see any reason to rip to 3 different formats unless you want to tag trice.
    WAV is a problem, tagging support is poor due to a lack of standards so portability is very low indeed.
    My preference is to rip to FLAC: lossless , excellent tagging and as a bonus a checksum. If ever the content gets corrupted, the FLAC decoder will warn you.

    If you rip each track to a single file, I donít see the use of CUE except as a strategy to overcome the tagging limitations of WAV.

    Summing up
    - use your media player for ripping if it can be set to secure mode (WMP, iTunes)
    - if you want to be nuke proof: dbPoweramp (faster, better tagging due to AMG) or EAC (slower but free)
    - Rip to 1 lossless format with excellent tagging support. As it is lossless you can always convert to any other format but first
    - Correct tags, add art work where needed, etc
    - Make a BACKUP

  5. #5
    Join Date: Aug 2010

    Location: Montseny National Park, Catalonia

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    Thanks for the comments Vincent

    Ripping to your hard drive is probably quicker but:
    a) you may have space limitations
    b) I think best replay quality is achieved from playing from a remote drive so you may as well rip to that drive in the first place. One less copy process; one less possibility for mistakes.
    Yes, hard drive noise is primarily a factor in replay and not in digital data transfer.
    c) If you are prepared to partition your hard drive and direct your rips to the partition then that is a reasonably safe option. However, many people use their PC/laptop for other things apart from music rip and replay and if the computer crashes or you get some other problems (bear in mind that the rips may be on the drive for some time before getting transferred to a remote drive) then you risk losing whatever you havenít copied to your remote drive.


    I donít agree with your view that most media players achieve bit perfect rips with the same degree of checks and secure modes that EAC and dbpoweramp give. Iíve tried a few and had too many problems with reading problems and error correction to make any extra speed or convenience worthwhile.

    Theoretically a WAV rip is as close to a perfect copy as it is possible to get.
    (I donít want to get into the lossless compression v WAV debate although I personally believe there is no audible difference)
    The point is if you have a WAV copy then you have the best possible library quality. If at some point someone does show that the compression and de-compression process does affect the quality then you have the possibility of listening to WAV. It seems sensible to have the best possible copy given your going to spend days, maybe weeks ripping your collection.

    I agree with all that you say about the convenience of Flac whan it comes to tagging which is why I suggest you rip a Flac copy as well. But, if this is the format you use to convert to ALAC or mp3 then it seems sensible to have two copies in case of drive failure, error in backup, etc.
    This way you have one WAV copy which is reference and stays as WAV which you can copy from but not alter in any way. Two Flac copies, one which you keep as repair/backup with any associated album art and other information and one you use as your everyday play/conversion copy.

    With regard to cue sheets.
    Some RAM players require cue sheets, CPlay for example.
    Cue sheets also give you the opportunity to add and alter text related to a file and can make the addition of album art in media players more easily accomplished. Given the option in EAC is there for making cue sheets and that they take up relatively little room it seems a bit short sighted not to include them. A brief look on the net should show some of the not so often considered uses for cue sheets. My advice; do it properly and make cue sheets.

    The goal of my guide was to suggest the means of making the highest quality rips that give the user the greatest range of possible options and security; not necessarily give the speediest or most convenient method of ripping a music collection which is what your comments tend towards.

    Yep, I know, itís the paranoid, audio nervosa guide but given the amount of time and trouble it takes to rip a 1000 CD collection I would hate to think that the owner discovers WAV does in fact sound better to his/or her ears or they cant use a particular player because they donít have cue sheets, or they have an electrical fault that fries their Flac backup and play drive.
    Do it once at the best possible quality with the highest degree of flexibility and security and then worry about convenience and the rest
    Single spur balanced Mains. Self built music server with 3 seperate linear PSU, Intel i5, 16 GB RAM no hard drive (various Linux OS). Benchmark Dac2 HGC, single ended XLR interconnects/Belkin cable. Exposure 21RC Pre, Super 18 Power (recap & modified). Modded World Audio HD83 HP amp. Hand built Monitors with external crossovers , Volt 250 bass & ABR, Scanspeak 13M8621 Mid & Scanspeak D2905/9300 Hi. HD595 & Beyer 880 (600 ohm) cans.

    The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.
    -Bertrand Russel

    John.

  6. #6
    Join Date: Apr 2010

    Location: Nergenshuizen, NL

    Posts: 196

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    Hi John

    Thanks for your extensive reply

    I would hate to think that the owner discovers WAV does in fact sound better
    I belong to the lossless=lossless clan.
    The specific file format is less important than the fact it is lossless.
    If one discover that another format sounds better or one switched to a media player not supporting a specific audio format, you can always convert to another format without loss.

    the highest quality rips that give the user the greatest range of possible options and security
    I do think the security argument is in favour of FLAC due to the internal checksum.
    As far as I know not other format/decoder offers this.
    There are indeed known cases of file becoming corrupted due to bad RAM.

    For archival I do prefer tagged formats.
    I like the files to be fully documented including the cover art.

    Although I do think your approach a bit overkill, it certainly is a rock solid one.

    BTW: are you familiar with this one? http://www.computeraudiophile.com/co...nd-Methodology

    Vincent

  7. #7
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    Just wanted to thank John (Welder) for his great advice on this thread. Cheers matey - I've ignored a lot of it () but it has been very helpful to consider the options before embarking on it. Well, I say embarking on it - repeating it really - if only data storage had been as cheap when I went through the whole exercise 7 or 8 years ago I would have just ripped the lot to FLAC then... Still, I have decided to only re-do my top albums, so only 5-600...
    Last edited by Alex_UK; 18-08-2011 at 19:05.
    Alex

    Main System: Digital: Dell Latitude D630/M2Tech Hiface/JRiver Media Centre 17/FLAC; Marantz SA7001 KI Signature SACD Player and other digital stuff into Gatorised Beresford Caiman DAC Vinyl: Garrard 401/SME 3009 SII Improved/Sumiko HS/Nagaoka MP-30
    Amplifier: Rega Brio R. Speakers: Spendor SP1. Cables: Various, mainly Mark Grant.
    Please see "about me" for the rest of my cr@p! Gallery


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  8. #8
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    For tagging WAV files, use Tag&Rename . The tags are recognised by all the multimedia playback programs that I use.
    For the best ripping accuracy on my laptop I have found that enabling ReadyBoost on a SD card makes a noticeable difference.

  9. #9
    Join Date: Aug 2010

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    Hi Alex.

    I was surprised to see this again. I thought it long buried and forgotten.
    Iím glad it was of some help despite doing it different the first time around
    Itís hard to believe I have a CD collection of over 1200 now and music on file equivalent to almost 2000.
    Prolly best if we donít delve into the exact source but what else are music loving friends and the internet for
    Single spur balanced Mains. Self built music server with 3 seperate linear PSU, Intel i5, 16 GB RAM no hard drive (various Linux OS). Benchmark Dac2 HGC, single ended XLR interconnects/Belkin cable. Exposure 21RC Pre, Super 18 Power (recap & modified). Modded World Audio HD83 HP amp. Hand built Monitors with external crossovers , Volt 250 bass & ABR, Scanspeak 13M8621 Mid & Scanspeak D2905/9300 Hi. HD595 & Beyer 880 (600 ohm) cans.

    The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.
    -Bertrand Russel

    John.

  10. #10
    Join Date: Feb 2011

    Location: South Wales - by the sea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Welder View Post
    Prolly best if we donít delve into the exact source but what else are music loving friends and the internet for
    File based audio can tempt you, but I reckon the artists would have no issue with folk like us ...... I have bought more CD's in the last 6 months, than I have probably bought in the last 6 years, due to being able to hear them first and play them instantly at high quality.

    I must admit when I read the first post I thought your collection was modest, not now though Nice of Alex to revive it, made for an interesting read.
    "People will hear what you tell them to hear" - Thomas Edison

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